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Bofors case: CBI withdraws application from Delhi court seeking permission for further probe into 'payoffs'

New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday withdrew from a Delhi court its application that had sought permission to further probe the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case.

The agency told Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Navin Kumar Kashyap that it wants to withdraw the application filed on 1 February, 2018.

It had moved the trial court seeking permission for further probe in the matter saying it had come across fresh material and evidence.

The agency on Thursday submitted before the court that decision on further course of action would be taken by it and wanted to withdraw the application for now.

 Bofors case: CBI withdraws application from Delhi court seeking permission for further probe into payoffs

A file image of Indian army soldiers preparing to fire a Bofors gun. Representational image. AFP

Taking note of CBI's stand, the judge said: "For the reason best known to the CBI, in case they want to withdraw the application, they have the right as they are the applicants."

The court on 4 December, 2018 had questioned as to why the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) required its permission to further probe the matter.

The CBI had also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court in 2 February, 2018 against the 31 May, 2005 verdict of the Delhi high Court discharging all the accused in the case.

The apex court had on 2 November, 2018 dismissed CBI's appeal in which it had sought condonation of the 13-year delay in filing the appeal against the high court judgment.

The apex court had said that it was not convinced with the grounds of the CBI to condone over 4,500 days' delay in filing the appeal.

However, one of the appeals is still alive in the apex court in which CBI is one of the respondents and the top court on 2 November, 2018 said that the agency can assist in the matter as respondent.

The apex court said the CBI can raise all grounds in the appeal against the high court verdict filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal who has also challenged the judgement.

Agrawal, who has now become a rebel BJP leader after he was denied Lok Sabha ticket from Rai Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, in 2005 had challenged the high court verdict after the CBI did not file the appeal in the mandatory 90 days period.

The agency had swung into action for a permission for further probe in the case after the Attorney General had orally given it a go ahead to file the appeal in the case in which it cited the October 2017 interview of private detective Michael Hershman, alleging that the then Rajiv Gandhi government had sabotaged his probe.

Justice RS Sodhi (since retired) of the Delhi High Court had on 31 May, 2005 quashed the CBI case in the Bofors pay-off scam.

Before the 2005 verdict of Justice Sodhi, another judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice JD Kapoor (since retired), had on 4 February, 2004 exonerated the late prime minister in the case and directed the framing of charge of forgery under section 465 of the IPC against Bofors company.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered into on 24 March, 1986.
Swedish Radio on 16 April, 1987 claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

The CBI on 22 January, 1990 registered the FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the India Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then president of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers.

It alleged that certain public servants and private persons in India and abroad had entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1982 and 1987 in pursuance of which the offences of bribery, corruption, cheating and forgery were committed.

The first chargesheet in the case was filed on 22 October, 1999, against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company.

A supplementary chargesheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers — S P Hinduja, G P Hinduja and P P Hinduja — on 9 October, 2000.

A special CBI court in Delhi on 4 March, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi in the case, saying the country could not afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which had already cost Rs 250 crore.

Quattrocchi, who had fled from India on 29-30 July, 1993, never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution. He passed away on 13 July, 2013. The other accused who died are Bhatnagar, Ardbo and Chadda.

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Updated Date: May 16, 2019 15:51:47 IST